Monday, June 06, 2016

Has The True Message Been Lost?

Why are some Christians so critical and judgmental? It is common to hear talk about "unbelievers" as though they have the plague and should be avoided at all cost. This message of condemnation is also preached to the believers as well. Is wrath and condemnation the message we should be preaching to win souls and to keep the "faithful" in line? I remember many years ago working at my first radio job at a small station in Carlsbad, New Mexico. My hair was long, and I was kind of "hippie" looking. After all, this was the 70's. But I was at a point in my life where I really needed some spiritual help. I normally worked Monday through Saturday, but one weekend I was assigned to work on Sunday. At that time, on Sundays, the station took a break from normal programming. They had a local preacher do a one hour show called, "Pecos Valley Hymn Time." I was so hoping that the preacher would reach out to me. He brought his two daughters to the station, and I thought they were kind of cute. Maybe they would reach out to me. At that time, if anyone would have reached out to me, I would have gladly responded. But sadly, neither the preacher nor his daughters had anything to do with me whatsoever. In fact, I even traded shifts for a number of weeks so that I could work on Sunday. But I got the cold shoulder from all three of them. I wondered if it was because I played rock and roll music, or had long hair. It was obvious to me that they thought I had some sort of unbeliever plague or something. Since then, over the years, I have seen time and time again how religion can be so cruel at times. Too often I have seen a lack of love between those who profess to be Christians. Why is it that some Christians are not only critical and judgmental to the unbelievers, but many times they act that way to fellow believers as well? Perhaps they have forgotten that Jesus said that he didn't come to judge but to save the world. Maybe they don't remember that he said that it would be by the love we have one for another that all men would know that we are his disciples. Or could it be that religion has taught and continues to promote guilt and condemnation? Could it be that many have lost the true message? In the gospels, Jesus said that he came to make known the Father. He told them that if they have seen him, then they have seen the Father. Why then, today, don't we make known the Father? Instead of finding fault, criticizing and condemning people for their actions, why don't we share the message of God's love and forgiveness? Why don't we focus on Christ's completed work of redemption that brought about eternal life? Why don't we tell people that in the new birth they are now a child of God and that nothing can separate them from His love? Are we so afraid to preach the Father's forgiveness because people might use it a license to sin? Do we refrain from teaching about healing because we don't believe it is available? Do we hold back on declaring God's promise of prosperity because we think being wealthy is somehow wrong? Instead, religion continues to list all the sins and transgressions. Preachers continue to remind their people of just how badly they behave. We are told of how displeased God is with just about everything we do. As a result, God's people are full of guilt and condemnation. The Bible teaches that condemnation hinders our prayer life. So, is the message that's being preached by many helping people to get closer to God, or is it driving them farther and farther away? Real change in a person's life happens from the inside out. Religion tries to change people on the outside. They tell people all the things that they should do and should not do in order to make God happy. Really, they ought to be preaching what God has already done through the completed work of his son, Jesus Christ. They ought to be declaring all that we now have available because of Christ. They ought to be teaching that Jesus Christ's complete work has opened up a beautiful individual relationship with God Almighty to anyone and everyone. Imagine what my reaction would have been if that preacher, or either of his daughters, would have shared that message with me on a Sunday afternoon. Imagine how my heart would have thrilled to know that God had forgiven me. Imagine how I would have felt finding out that God's love for me was unconditional and that I could have a personal, intimate relationship with God, my Father. What message are you delivering? Is it the true message of deliverance from God or a message of bondage from religion? If we dare to call ourselves Christians, then we ought to endeavor to live our lives Christ-like, and follow his example.

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